Critical Language Scholarship Program | Eram Mallick
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On a trip to Bada Immambara with my language partner. The Bada Immambara is a mosque complex that was built in 1784. It also has a massive maze called Bhul-bhulaiya, translating to "the labyrinth," which leads to an amazing view at the top of the Bada Immambara.

Eram Mallick

Eram Mallick is an alum­na of the 2019 CLS Urdu pro­gram in Luc­know, India. She’s cur­rent­ly an under­grad­u­ate stu­dent at Brown Uni­ver­si­ty, study­ing Eco­nom­ics. Eram plans to use her Urdu skills in her pro­fes­sion­al career focus­ing on inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ics in non-prof­its. She enjoys exper­i­ment­ing with new dessert recipes and running.

Unique Per­spec­tive of a Her­itage Speaker

Grow­ing up in the Wash­ing­ton D.C. area, I was sur­round­ed by South Asian cul­ture. I was raised as a bilin­gual speak­er of Urdu, but nev­er got to expe­ri­ence an immer­sive envi­ron­ment where it was the default lan­guage before the CLS Pro­gram. I grew up speak­ing a dialect of Urdu that came from my family’s ances­tral city of Hyder­abad. How­ev­er, I was eager to speak anoth­er dialect of Urdu and to learn to read and write in order to uti­lize these skills in a pro­fes­sion­al setting. 

Learn­ing a lan­guage as a native speak­er pos­es its own unique set of chal­lenges. One of the largest chal­lenges for me is tak­ing the step from deep famil­iar­i­ty in a famil­ial con­text to gram­mar, syn­tax, and sen­tence struc­ture in an aca­d­e­m­ic set­ting, bridg­ing the gap between a nat­ur­al and a for­mal­ized learned skill set. My instruc­tors dur­ing the CLS Pro­gram were incred­i­bly sup­port­ive and they tai­lored the lessons to fit my indi­vid­ual needs. I made more lan­guage progress in those two months than I ever thought was possible.

A Pas­sion for Study­ing Urdu

I was inspired to study Urdu because of its wide­spread use and rich his­to­ry. The his­to­ry of Urdu makes it unlike any oth­er lan­guage in the region where it is spo­ken; it is an Indo-Euro­pean lan­guage, mak­ing it the per­fect blend of the lan­guages in the region. To learn Urdu is to learn South Asian his­to­ry and the gen­e­sis of mod­ern South Asian cul­ture as we know it today. Addi­tion­al­ly, South Asia has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions in the world, which I hope to work with in my pro­fes­sion­al career. 

Fur­ther­more, Urdu gives you the foun­da­tion to be able to pick up oth­er com­mon­ly-spo­ken lan­guages such as Ara­bic and Per­sian since there is a lot of over­lap in the script. There are also many com­mon­al­i­ties in the speech between Hin­di and Pun­jabi, dra­mat­i­cal­ly increas­ing the num­ber of peo­ple you can con­nect with. 

Urdu poet­ry, oth­er­wise known as Sha­yari, trav­eled with the lan­guage to form con­cen­tra­tions of Urdu-speak­ing pop­u­la­tions scat­tered through­out South Asia, such as my par­ents’ home­town of Hyder­abad. The dias­po­ra of the lan­guage to cre­ate these seem­ing­ly ran­dom iso­lat­ed con­cen­tra­tions fas­ci­nates me. Addi­tion­al­ly, col­lo­qui­al Urdu is vir­tu­al­ly indis­tin­guish­able from mod­ern Hin­di, how­ev­er the pure lan­guage is kept alive through poet­ry for its beau­ty rather than function.

Cel­e­brat­ing an Amer­i­can Hol­i­day Abroad

This was the first time in my life that I cel­e­brat­ed the 4th of July, one of my favorite hol­i­days, away from my home coun­try. Typ­i­cal­ly, I cel­e­brate with a bar­beque by the beach sur­round­ed by fam­i­ly and friends. Locat­ed thou­sands of miles away from home, my cohort and I cel­e­brat­ed with an Indi­an twist: for lunch we ordered chick­en tik­ka piz­za and wore red, white, and blue to class. After class, we all met at a rooftop pool to eat some leg­endary Luc­knowi kabobs and lounge by the pool, cre­at­ing our ver­sion of home in Luc­know with our CLS fam­i­ly. It meant a lot that every­one in the cohort, expe­ri­enc­ing a sim­i­lar home­sick­ness, made an effort to cel­e­brate this hol­i­day while thou­sands of miles away from home. Through the CLS Pro­gram, I know I have made some life­long friends and memories.

Pro­fes­sion­al Goals

I plan to go into the field of con­sult­ing in order to dri­ve action­able change and I intend on har­ness­ing my lan­guage skills to nav­i­gate untapped Asian mar­kets. Even­tu­al­ly, I would like to pur­sue an MBA degree, with a focus on inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ics to con­tribute to the non-prof­it space.

A Word to Applicants

I am so grate­ful to the CLS expe­ri­ence for the friends, edu­ca­tion, and new­found pas­sion it has giv­en me. I real­ly encour­age every­one to apply for this oppor­tu­ni­ty; please reach out to me to learn more about CLS and what it’s like being a native speaker.


Alumni Profiles

Eram Mallick
Eram Mallick
Urdu 2019
Lucknow, India

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Posted Date

April 29, 2020